Pho: The Ultimate Sick-day Soup

March 2, 2018 , In: Eat, Mood Food, Recipes , With: No Comments

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I think that I was Asian in a past life. I’m serious! Hear me out…  I don’t know anyone who craves Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, or Thai as often as I do. I crave it when I’m sick, or sad, or… let’s be honest… just hungry! This week I’ve been fighting the onset of a cold. I knew I just needed pho (pronounced /fʌ/ — or fun without the N) and I’d be back to normal in a SLURP!

What the Pho?

If you don’t know pho… well, my question is, “have you been living under a rock?” In around 2009 it became an American food craze despite it having been in the country since the 1970s. Yup, when soldiers returned from fighting in Vietnam, they found themselves jonesing for a steaming bowl of noodles and broth. And thanks to areas (like Little Saigon) in bigger cities, pho was actually decently accessible. And it’s even more so now! Check out phofever’s website to find a steaming bowl near you. If your vegetarian/vegan, make sure to call or check a restaurant’s website before you go! Some places serve a “veggie” version but in the traditional beef broth. Womp womp!

Layers and layers of pho-lavor…

I’ve been doing my research on this broth for a few years now. Trying to pinpoint each and every flavor and how traditional pho is made. But, who has all day to let a pot of broth simmer? The trick to my broth is using two types of store-bought broth. The addition of aromatics and a splash of water quickly creates the layers upon layers of flavor you’ll find when you go to a restaurant. Don’t be discouraged by the number of steps in this recipe. It seems intense but they are easy and can be done at the same time! Get your multitasking cap on!

A Pho-nomenal Cure in a Bowl.

Okay, so before I go on, there’s actually some science behind the healing powers of a bowl of this soup. I’m not pho-king around! (hehe… alright I’m done I swear!) The herbs and spices used to season the broth are rooted in Chinese Medicine and span the spectrum of ailments! So this bowl of soup really can cure just about anything! We’ve got cinnamon which helps colds and sore throats, while ginger deters bacteria and cold pathogens. Lemongrass aids in digestion and star anise staves off colds. More on these in a later post… But, it turns out consuming veggie pho can take the health factor one step further than it’s meat ladened sibling! Loading up with veggies helps provide the body with extra vitamins. For example, broccoli is a good source of zinc. And, if you’ve ever tried those coughdrop-like lozenges that are loaded with zinc and help to prevent colds… I think you’ll agree, broccoli tastes a BILLION TIMES BETTER!

Okay… Not Done! This Girl Just Wants to Have Pho-n!

I just want to apologize for all of my obnoxious puns in today’s post. Puns make me giggle and I love them so much. I used to participate in a chat on Twitter, where we’d have a serious pun game at the end of each chat. With that, I want to encourage you to leave your favorite pun in the comments section below. Lettuce be silly and paw-sitive!


The Ultimate Sick Day Soup: Pho

The Ultimate Sick Day Soup: Pho


    For the Broth
  • 1 Onion, peeled and quartered
  • 3 inch piece of Ginger, peeled
  • 4 cloves Garlic, peeled
  • 2 "stalks" Lemongrass, cracked with the back of a knife (4-6 inches in length. I use the lemongrass that comes in mini-clamshell-like packaging with the other fresh herbs in my produce section)
  • 4 Whole Cloves
  • 1 Cinnamon stick
  • 3 Allspice berries
  • 5 Star Anise pods
  • 32 oz Mushroom Broth
  • 32 oz Vegetable Stock
  • 1 cup Water
  • 4-5 tsp Brown Sugar
  • 1 TBSP Soy Sauce (Use Tamari for gluten free option!)
  • 1 TBSP Salt
  • Pinch of White Pepper
    Toppings and garnish:
  • 8-12 oz dried Rice Noodles --some people like extra noodles in their pho, you can always make extra and use it later (bahn pho, 1/16-, 1/8-, or 1/-4 inch wide)
  • Veggies of Choice (I use broccoli florets, green cabbage, zucchini, celery, and carrots-- cut into 1/4 slices)
  • 3 Scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 to 2 limes, cut into wedges
  • 1-2 Jalapeño, sliced into rounds optional
  • 1 cup Bean Sprouts, optional
  • 1 bunch each Cilantro and Thai basil
  • Sriracha, to serve
  • Hoisin Sauce, to serve


    Prepare the onions and ginger:
  1. Peel the onions and cut them into quarters through the root. Peel the ginger and slice it into quarters down its length.
  2. Using tongs, char the onions and ginger on all sides over high flame on a gas stove, or on a baking sheet placed directly under the broiler (about 5-8 minutes on each side) — until the onions and ginger pieces show charred spots. Rinse the pieces under cool water to remove any loose, gritty, overly charred bits.
    For the spice bag:
  1. Use a spice bag or cheesecloth to hold cloves, allspice berries and star anise pods together. Make sure to tie it closed tightly! The point of a spice bag is to keep all of the spices together so there is no need to fish out each individual clove/berry/pod!
    For the Broth:
  1. In a large pot over med-high heat, combine the mushroom broth, vegetable stock, and water. Add in the lemongrass, cinnamon stick, spice bag, and charred ginger and onion. Stir in brown sugar, soy sauce, white pepper, and salt.
  2. Bring to a boil, cover, lower the heat to medium - to maintain a slow boil.
    For the toppings:
  1. Prepare noodles according to the package instructions. I like to cook them for the longer period of time. You're going for easily slurp-able noodles. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop cooking.
  2. Add your choice of veggies to a steamer basket and steam for 3 minutes. You want them to still be slightly crunchy as they will continue to cook in the broth.
    To Serve:
  1. Strain broth of all the solids and return the broth to the pot over low heat to maintain a simmer.
  2. In a soup bowl, add rice noodles and steamed veggies. Ladle broth over noodles and veggies. Top lightly with scallions and cilantro.
  3. Serve with a plate filled with bean sprouts, jalapeño slices, 1-2 lime wedges, and Thai basil and additional cilantro. Set out sriracha and hoisin sauce as well, for everyone to enhance their pho to their preference!
  4. **NOTE** To store, keep everything separate! That will ensure that the broth doesn't overcook the noodles and veggies when you are reheating!
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Kaiti J

Welcome to Garnished with Gratitude! I'm so glad you're here. I'm Kaiti, a fan of healthy-ish ways, lists/plans, and I'm a total goofball. I'm here to create a space that provides resources to live your best life! From food and exercise to visualization and inspiration, this site is for you.

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